Classy Field Nominated for 2014 Challenge Stakes

March 11th, 2014

After opening her 2014 racing account in the best way possible, talented sprinter Snitzerland is aiming to make it two wins at Group level from as many starts this preparation, having been included in nominations for the Group 2 Challenge Stakes (1000m) at Royal Randwick this weekend.

Snitzerland will attempt to defend her 2013 Challenge Stakes title at Randwick this weekend

Snitzerland will attempt to defend her 2013 Challenge Stakes title at Randwick this weekend. Photo: Steve Hart

Snitzerland has produced a particularly consistent racing career since debuting on track in late 2011, claiming eight wins and four places from only 17 starts to date.

While comfortably overcoming talented fields to win several Group 2 and 3 level events over her career, the pressure of a Group 1 event seemed to weigh heavily on the talented Snitzel mare until finally breaking through for her maiden victory at the peak of Australian Racing in the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes (1000m) first-up this preparation.

Trainer Gerald Ryan has outlined the Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) on April 12th as the major target for the in-form four-year-old this preparation, and is confident Snitzerland will contest the season undefeated.

Also included in nominations for the 2014 Challenge Stakes is proven autumn contender Bel Sprinter.

Bel Sprinter was arguably one of the best performers of the 2013 autumn; claiming the Group 1 The Galaxy (1100m) and finishing third in the Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes before heading overseas to run second in the Group 1 Krisflyer International Sprint 2013 (1200m).

Despite featuring as a frontrunner in betting markets for the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) first-up on February 22nd, the Bel Esprit gelding was unable to match the strong form of most of his rivals, finishing well off the pace of highly-rated rival Lankan Rupee in ninth.

Trainer Jason Warren was not concerned by the less-than-convincing opening tilt, and is confident Bel Sprinter will be one of the season’s best short-distance performers.

Buffering is poised to make his first-up appearance for 2014 in the Challenge Stakes this weekend, having also been included in nominations for the Group 2 race.

Buffering has failed to finish outside the places in his last six races, which include three-straight wins at Group 1 level, including the Manikato Stakes (1200m), the VRC Sprint Classic (1200m) and the Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) most recently.

The star of trainer Robert Heathcote’s Eagle Farm Stables, Buffering will likely contest the TJ Smith Stakes before returning to Brisbane to contest the Group 1 BTC Cup(1200m).

Joseph Pride is the only trainer to have entered more than one hopeful in nominations for the 2014 Challenge Stakes, with highly-rated stablemates Rain Affair and Tiger Tees both featuring.

Rain Affair has scored 12 wins from 26 starts in an impressive racing career to date, including the Group 3 Missile Stakes (1200m) ahead of Mic Mac and Title to open his last preparation.

Having finished last and vetted following the Group 2 Expressway Stakes (1200m) first-up this campaign, the classy six-year-old was ordered to contest a barrier trial at Warwick Farm on February 28th, of which he comfortably won.

New Zealand-import Tiger Tees displayed an impressive turn of foot in the final straight to beat Adebasi and Steel Zip to the line in the Listed Falvelon (1200m) at Eagle Farm on February 22nd, and is reportedly in top shape leading into the Challenge Stakes, having completed a strong piece of work at Pride’s Warwick Farm stables last week.

A total of 11 runners have been nominated for the 2014 Group 2 Challenge Stakes, with a final field due on Wednesday morning.

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2014 Challenge Stakes Nominations

# Horse Trainer Hcp Rating
1 BEL SPRINTER Jason Warren 110
2 BUFFERING Robert Heathcote 118
3 FAMOUS SEAMUS (NZ) Noel Mayfield-Smith 107
4 RAIN AFFAIR Joseph Pride 108
5 SATIN SHOES Clarry Conners 104
6 SESSIONS Peter Snowden 106
7 SNITZERLAND Gerald Ryan 111
8 TEMPLE OF BOOM Tony Gollan 105
9 TIGER TEES (NZ) Joseph Pride 104
10 VILLA VERDE Anthony Cummings 84
11 WHITTINGTON Gai Waterhouse 95